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Fifty-four Senators signal letter criticizing Turkey’s human rights file

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Feb 10, 2021

More than half of the US Senate has signed a letter urging US President Joe Biden to push Turkey on its human rights file.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wrote the letter, Wyden mentioned in a press launch.

In the letter, they allege that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has “marginalized domestic opposition” and “silenced or co-opted critical media outlets.”

They additionally slammed Turkey for buying the Russian S-400 missile protection system and for its battle with US-backed Kurdish teams in Syria. The senators additionally cited the therapy of basketball participant Enes Kanter. The NBA star and supporter of the Gulen motion is a frequent critic of the Turkish authorities. Kanter’s citizenship was revoked in 2017.

Fifty-four senators signed the letter.

The Turkish authorities’s crackdown on journalism and opposition events has been extensively reported on.

Turkey has obtained vital criticism from the US Congress in current months on related points. In December, the highest Republican on the House Foreign Relations Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, mentioned Turkey’s “provocative behavior” was undermining the NATO alliance. McCaul cited Turkey’s buy of the Russian S-400 missile protection system. Russia isn’t a member of NATO and opposes the transatlantic alliance on a number of points.

McCaul additionally mentioned Turkey’s battle with US-backed Kurdish teams in Syria is undermining progress preventing the Islamic State (IS). The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fights IS with US assist, however Turkey opposes the group, alleging that it has ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey. The SDF and Turkey are presently in a state of conflict.

In October, a group of Democratic senators demanded the Trump administration look into allegations of Turkish human rights abuses in Libya, Iraq and Syria. Turkey is concerned in a number of regional conflicts. In Libya, Turkey helps the UN-recognized Government of National Accord within the civil conflict. In Iraq, Turkey steadily targets PKK positions. Both Turkey and the United States take into account the PKK a terrorist group.

The similar month, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who now heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, efficiently satisfied the Library of Congress to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. This refers back to the killings of Armenians, Greeks and Syriacs in present-day Turkey in the beginning of the 20th century. Turkey acknowledges there have been deaths however disputes that what occurred constituted genocide.

Turkey has responded to a number of the criticism previously. In October, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu mentioned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed “blatant ignorance” when she criticized Erdogan.

Repeated criticisms from Congress may complicate US-Turkey relations below President Joe Biden. Relations are presently at a low level. Aides to Biden and Erdogan spoke on the telephone this month to attempt to “manage disagreements effectively.”

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